George Mason University
Course Description

updated 2-23-09

CS555 Computer Communications and Networking

Sections 001 (face-to-face) and 002 (distance education), Spring 2009

Tuesday 7:20-10:00 PM

Science & Technology I (ST1) Room 126


Lecture: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dr. Sophia Scoggins
ST2 Room 335 (mail drop ST2-335)
Office hours: Tuesday 5:30 (sometimes later) – 7:00 PM or by appointment
Preferred contact is email:
Phone: (work) (703) 983-2972, (cell) (703) 362-8021 for timely correspondence

Homework submission: Give a hard copy to Dr. Scoggins during class, or

email to, office hours Monday 4-7PM and Friday 2-5PM in room 330 ST2.

Lab Project: Professor Dr. J. Mark Pullen
ST2 Room 403 (mail drop ST2-430)
Preferred contact is email:
Phone: 703-993-1538



The course will present data communications and computer networking fundamental theories, methods and protocols and their relevance to the OSI 7-layer reference model. In the 7-layer reference model, we will discuss the layers of physical, data link, network, transport, and some applications. We will learn different types of networks, including Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN), wireline and wireless networks. The course will also cover network design, performance, Quality of Services (QoS), and security. Students will program simplified versions of some communication protocols as part of the course project.

Prerequisites: STAT344 or equivalent; ability to program in Java. Students will be required to confirm in writing that they meet the prerequisites.

Project: Dr. Mark Pullen will be in charge of the project.  We will use the Java Network Workbench (JNW), software developed at GMU that simulates a protocol stack and displays the results, using a text interface. Students will complete modules for Internet stack layers and run them in JNW simulations. JNW runs in free Java programming environments such as NetBeans. Well-commented code must be uploaded to Moodle for grading. Upload webpage is at and will accept your GMU email username and password for login.

An additional project will be available for extra credit. The CS555 TA is Banshari Patel, email, office hours Monday 4-7PM and Friday 2-5PM in room 330 ST2. The TA also is available by appointment at other times (send email at least 24 hours in advance to set up appointment). Student problems with the project are to be addressed to the TA; if the TA cannot resolve your problem, it will be passed on to Prof. Pullen who will deal with it.

The project is documented in one of the required texts. Additional project information will be found at

New project software, the Java Network Workbench (JNW), will be introduced this semester on a voluntary basis. Send email to if you want to participate.

Students are responsible for assigned readings and all material outlined in lecture slides.


Homework 20%, Midterm exam 20%, Project 30%, Final exam 30%.

Project credit breakout: JDLC1, JDLC2, JLAN2, JWAN2, JTRN1, JTRN2 five points each.

Missed exams must be arranged with the instructor BEFORE the exam date. There will be NO same makeup exam once the solution is provided to the class or the final grade is sent to school. However, different makeup exam may be provided with advanced arrangement with the instructor. The difficulty of a unique makeup exam may not be in the same level as the scheduled exam.

Assignments are due by 19:30 on assigned date. Late assignments lose 10% per assignment credit. No project submission will be accepted after the reading day.

All students are expected to abide by the Honor Code as stated in the GMU catalog and elaborated for Computer Science. Students should be aware that their submissions may be checked by plagiarism detection software.

Grading is proficiency-based (no curve), cutoffs will be in the vicinity of (but not higher than) A  93; A- 90; B+ 87; B 83; B- 80; C 70.

Extra credit is available by doing extra projects; however, no student who fails the final exam will receive a grade higher than C, regardless of extra credit earned.


The Syllabus subject to revision.
Date and topic/readings in Peterson text/project assignment

(1) 1/20 Class was cancelled due to Inauguration.

(2) 1/27 Class was cancelled due to weather

(3) 2/3 Course introduction; network concepts; 7-layer and 5-layer models, legacy telecommunications systems, standard bodies / Sections 1.1 to 1.4 / NW Setup introduced

(4) 2/10 Physical layer: analog & digital telecommunications / Sections 1.5, 2.1, & 2.2 / Project DLC1: bit-stuffing introduced

(5) 2/17 Physical layer: DSL, Fiber Optical, Cable, Radio / Sections 2.1 & 2.2

(6) 2/24 Data Link layer: Data compression, security principles, integrity, appropriate use, discrete event simulation / Sections 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, & 7.2 / Project DLC2: CRC introduced; project DLC1 due

(7) 3/3 ATM networking, SONET, Fiber Optical Network/Section 6.5, 7.1 & 3.3

(8) 3/10 Mid-term exam; Spring break (makeup for snow day);

(9) 3/17 Network Layer: LAN, MAN, WAN, routing, Quality of Services (QoS), multicast / Sections 2.6 to 2.9, Chapter 3 except Section 3.3;   / Project LAN1: CSMA/CD LAN introduced; Project DLC2 due

(10) 3/24 Internet Architecture (IPv4); IPv6, Metcalfe’s Law /Chapter 4 & 5

(11) 3/31 Transport Layer: Queueing basics; TCP, UDP, Streaming Transport Control Protocol (STCP), Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) / Chapter 5 & Sections 6.1 to 6.4 / Project WAN 2: Forwarding and Optimization introduced; Project LAN1 due

(12) 4/7 Wireless networks: WiFi, WiMax, Radio Networks/ Project TRN1: Reliable Transport introduced

(13) 4/14 Next Generation Networks, Voice & Video over Internet (VVoIP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Real-Time Transport Protocol/Real-Time Transport Control Protocol (RTP/RTCP) / Project WAN2 due

(14) 4/21 Cellular Networks, 3GPP/IMS/ Project INT3: Integrated Stack introduced;

(15) 4/28 Satellite Networks; /Project TRN1 due; extra credit project LAN2 due

(16) 5/5 Network Security, media security (SRTP), Quality of Services (QoS), Network Management / Chapter 9/ Project INT3 due; all remaining extra credit projects due

(17) 5/12 Final exam (comprehensive) / all chapters listed above / Exam location TBA



Required textbook: Larry Peterson & Bruce Davie: Computer Networks 4th Ed, Morgan Kaufmann, 2007
Required project book: Mark Pullen, Understanding Internet Protocols, Wiley, 2000

References (available in library):
1. Comer, Internetworking with TCP/IP, Vol. I, 3rd Ed., Prentice-Hall, 1996
Tanenbaum, Computer Networks, 4th Ed., Prentice-Hall, 2002
Stallings, Data and Computer Networks 8th Ed. Prentice-Hall, 2006

Course communication: We will use email extensively. Students are responsible to read email daily. Announcements will be sent to the class email list, which consists of GMU email accounts. If you want to receive your class email at a different address, send email to the instructor requesting this.

Course notices and assignments will be provided via email. Course materials (for example, homework solutions) will be available though the course webpage, Students are responsible for assigned readings and all material outlined in lecture slides. The instructor will capture essential class discussion and put it on the webpage after the session and before the next session.

Internet-based course delivery: classes will be available on computer desktops at home or office by using dial-up through GMU Internet facilities. See All classes may be taken over the network, however students must appear in person for midterm and final exams.